Saturday, 7 January 2012

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Hell Train - Christopher Fowler

Release Date: 05/01/12


Imagine there was a supernatural chiller that Hammer Films never made. A grand epic produced at the studio’s peak, which played like a cross between the Dracula and Frankenstein films and Dr Terror’s House Of Horrors...

Four passengers meet on a train journey through Eastern Europe during the First World War, and face a mystery that must be solved if they are to survive.

As the ‘Arkangel’ races through the war-torn countryside, they must find out:

What is in the casket that everyone is so afraid of? What is the tragic secret of the veiled Red Countess who travels with them? Why is their fellow passenger the army brigadier so feared by his own men? And what exactly is the devilish secret of the Arkangel itself?

Bizarre creatures, satanic rites, terrified passengers and the romance of travelling by train, all in a classically styled horror novel.


Christopher Fowler is perhaps best known for his Bryant and May Detective series so I was a little apprehensive when I discovered that he was writing a horror story for Solaris, not that I doubted that he could do it, but when an author is established in one genre, it is often hard for the reader to adapt to them in another.

That said, I really shouldn’t have worried as a lot of the skills utilised in the crime genre translate wonderfully to the horror. As usual with Christopher’s writing you have top notch characters, solid prose and of course when added to an illustrious history of British Horror Giant, Hammer, then it’s a tales that’s as gripping in the bound form as the celluloid was for me growing up.

Add to this, a few magical twists alongside an identifiable authorly voice which will leave the reader in no doubt about what a treat this title is with the odd sleight of hand trick. Cracking.

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